Should COSI Become a School for Math and Science?

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This link, http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071110/NEWS16/71..., brings up an idea by Jack Ford to have COSI become a school during the week, and a museum on the week-ends. My first concern would be the security of the school. Would the kids have to worry about their private things being gone through by strangers?

Old South End Broadway

I thought that Toledo Technology Academy was geared to this kind of student? What effect would this have on enrollment there? If this is truly a "market" could it be saturated to the point where neither school can make a go of it, and both fail because they don't have enough students? Dreams are nice, but is this bumping up against the reality of the marketplace.

Old South End Broadway

...they're focused on how to save COSI.

If you're looking to establish a school, you look for a suitable building. COSI is not in a building that is suitable for a school. As I wrote today on my blog, the HVAC costs alone disqualify it from consideration.

http://thurbersthoughts.blogspot.com/2007/11/cosi-as-charter-school.html

Don't get me wrong, I don't mind a math/science charter school - but what's the purpose here? to establish such a school? or 'save' COSI?

And that doesn't even address the estimate $1 million in other tax monies Ford thinks would be needed...

It sounds like a good idea on the surface as for their private things, well thats what lockers and locks are for.

As a museum COSI needs to address what it hasn't been doing right since it opened. Namely my first visit there many years ago was exactally the same as my last visit there two years ago.
Look at all the awesome special exhibits the zoo puts on, the pandas, the koalas, the butterfly house. COSI slaps up a new kiosk and calls it a special exhibit.

The science museum in Detroit had a huge Titanic exhibit. I made a special trip there just for that. COSI should have been doing things like that all along. They also should have looked into a bigger location as Portside seems rather limited in what they could do.

other than to provide employment opportunities for 15 teachers?

How 'bout we spend a couple million of our tax bucks and convert the old Showcase Cinemas on Secor into a ballet school? Or maybe a shelter for homeless squirrels?

Maybe the former Cub Foods on Laskey and Jackman? Maybe we can throw some tax bucks at it and we could make a bunch of floors on it that are each only 5 fee high, and then we could make little apartments on each of these 5' floors and let homeless midgets live there for nothing? We could call it stay free mini-pads!!

WTF is everyone all a twitter about what to do with COSI?? It's a private business who despite not having to pay rent or utilities couldnt hack it.

Folks, are we not talking about riverfront property situated dead-center of our downtown?? Why does it have to be some government funded ANYTHING??

Why not let them finish driving their company into the ground and then put the land up for sale? Let the next guy on deck see if he can make anything out of what in any other city but here in ToLaLa-Land would be PRIME REAL ESTATE!!

BUT!!! When the next guy gets hold of it - LET HIM BE!!! Keep Carty and the rest of the government weasels the HELL out of it!!

... fault, but does this also apply to Southwyck? As far as I can see that was only the "free hand of the marketplace". I am not saying that is wrong, but everything is a gamble. You make your best assessment, and hope you are right. We know that the government isn't the correct source for business downtown, but there are no guarantees that whatever private enterprise does will work any better. The only thing we benefit from is that the tax dollars from the citizenry isn't being used to prop up something that isn't working. Instead, if our local "geniuses" make a mistake it will be their lenders who take a bath.

Old South End Broadway

The government should stay the hell out of Southwyck too. If the owners wanted to turn it into a flea market THAT WAS THEIR CHOICE!!!

THEY chose not to keep up the security when the gangbangers came in and drove everyone away, so now why would you think the taxpayers need to jump in and bail them out??

Honestly, I dont understand your point of view.

correct? I have no problem with that definition. I thought I was pretty plain.

I believe in private enterprise. But there is risk involved. Not every enterprise succeeds. That is the risk. There are no guarantees (except the government's guarantee on bank deposits to a certain amount). You place your bets, and you take your chances. We place our faith in the banks that make the loans to the businesses. If their loans fail hopefully we've spread the risk enough that we don't lose everything.

Old South End Broadway

So if I understand this correctly; JFo makes COSI a school thus qualifying for public monies via tax levies and in essence telling those same taxpayers who voted no to approve a levy for COSI to go **** themselves.

Isn't life great?

If man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth. ~Japanese Proverb

... one more reason not to vote for school levies.

Old South End Broadway

many of the posts on this blog about how cruddy our Toledo Public School system is, by and large? The Toledo Technology Academy is one of the success stories of TPS, I'd say, and TPS is in need of more experimental school ideas. Other science museums have successful science magnet schools, and with COSI's linkages with Toledo and BGSU (COSI won a big grant from the government a few years back for teacher professional work, in partnership with the two universities), it could be an interesting pipeline into preservice teachers. Could be an interesting idea, I'd say. The teens themselves could help run the museum, design exhibits, work on public demonstration and speaking skills, and the revenue could be contributed back into the system. Might not work, but it seems to me that there is a potential that should be explored.

FACE THE FACTS FOLKS...PEOPLE DO NOT SEE VALUE IN COSI (PERIOD). If people saw value in it the place never would have been bankrupt in the first place.

Matt Holdridge
The Toledo Tattler

There are some very interesting points on this discussion of COSI teaming up to be a charter school. Here's some questions that come to mind:

1) Exactly who will pay for it?

TPS either has an abundance of buildings new and old now depending on how you look at it. Our original OFSC building plan called for 2 middle schools in each of the feeder patterns. The OFSC required TPS to scale that plan back because by the end of the building phase with our district losing on average 2000 students per year, we could not sustain 2 middle schools per feeder pattern.

So if we created another charter school in the TPS list of offerings, we would further siphon off more enrollment and it could create further funding reductions from OFSC as we finish out the building plan because we would not have the projected enrollment to sustain such.

2) Again, who will pay for it?

Adding the COSI building to the list of TPS expeneses would be extremely costly to the operating budget of TPS. Even if Mr. Ford could secure those State and Federal dollars he mentioned in the blade article, who is left to foot the bill of operation of this building?

3) Is the idea one worth looking at?

Possibly. As OFSC Chair on the TPS BOE, I read of the idea for the first time yesterday. Mr. Ford obviously has served for sometime on the Board at COSI. He mentioned during the TPS BOE debates and plugged for the COSI vote at some of the initial debates. In the last few debates, he changed his stance and didn't start out his intro speech with a plug for the COSI levy, possibly sensing there was little support for new taxes to support this entity.

4) Does TPS need to be innovative and research such an idea?

Yes, as one post pointed out, TTA is a highly successful school. However, it serves just under 200 students and passage of an entrance exam is required for entry. It has an element of support from business which is absolutely fantastic. Can we take such a model and put it in place say at Woodward High school with 900 or so students?

Maybe, but at what cost?

5) Could COSI and TPS effectively join forces?

Depends. I've seen that often specific entities want to be the controlling party. Would TPS be willing to accept a 50/50 shared agreement? What would those details look like? Would COSI employees become part of one of the TPS bargainning units?

6) What about other locations?

There seems to be a build and discard mentality in town. Could COSI effectively be relocated to perhaps a historic building - maybe Scott High School.

Could Mr. Ford secure those funds and COSI move over to a renovated campus at Scott High School and that be the extent of the partnering between the 2 entities?

What about Northtowne Mall - could TPS move a Math and Science Academy in that area and recoup the many students who leave Point Place once they hit 6th grade? Would a school like this be enough of a draw to recruit back the children of nearly 60% of TPS employees that live outside the district, thereby significantly reducing the annual decline in TPS enrollment and inreasing dollars to our budget received from State foundation monies?

What I understood the vote to say regarding COSI, wasn't that voters don't value its benefit, but more importantly, they decided this time and last time that they simply could not share their smaller percentage of disposable income to pay toward an increase in property tax.

One other comment, in some cities there is a high percentage of outside visitors that support and sustain such entities. If we want to be able to hold on to valuable assets like COSI, how do we go about focusing on a plan to make Toledo a place to visit. Perhaps we need a county-wide vision and strategy coupled with a deeper understanding of what limits our reduced tax base can sustain in Toledo and Lucas County.

Exactly Maggie - thanks for the LOL. Did anyone happen to see the 21 year old Mayor elect to Waterville on Conklin's show this morning?

How impressive - his poise, message and ideas of progress!! Obviously the idea of logic and reason is alive and thriving in the areas surrounding us...

His message was so much the same of what I see occuring with TPS from those who wish to be progressive....he mentioned the need to be transparent - reaching out to the citizens - conducting town hall meetings to seek and value community input.

That was one of the messages of Three for Change and it rang loud and clear from Catlin and Myer's campaign as well.

I didn't hear what political party he was from but I would very much like to meet him and discuss his ideas - they are very similar to what Toledo needs.

Darlene...

You're right on. TPS has lost a significant student base over the last 10-12 years, right. I do wonder if some interesting new strategies such as this can recruit students back into the district, increasing monies received from the state.

COSI brings its own support from local business, as well as access to new sets of funding from state and federal granting agencies. Any revenue flow would feed back into TPS, I imagine, which is a very interesting thought. And costs would be more contained, as some services for the school would also serve for the museum. And some services could be performed by students. Would be fun to play with that model for giggles and see what emerges.

One of the major knocks of current education is that it occurs primarily out-of-context, and transfer does not occur between the classroom learning and real-life situations where application needs to occur. Educationally, it is an interesting thought to be able to embed STEM-learning opportunities around a rich palette of science tools. Peeking around other museum websites, there are a number of museums that do precisely this, including large museums like the Franklin Institute and the Science Museum of Minnesota. I wonder if they'd be worth calling in to consult?

As for location, for it to function as a museum, it would probably need to be located in a place that not only is accessible to non-students, but is also welcoming and inviting, something that most extant school buildings are not. Great care is needed for this - it's all about location, location, location!

As for thoughts of easy relocation, an analysis of moving to the MCO campus or another place like the Zoo placed the price tag around 4-5 million dollars, I believe from their last levy campaign, in order to retrofit the buildings and move the pieces.

I agree entirely that the "could they join forces" questions is huge. It would require a fine balance between input from COSI and TPS together, and without a partnership mentality it would be doomed for failure from the get-go. This is where I think it would fail ~ the monies could be obtained, the other issues could be worked out, but I don't think that TPS administration, TFT, and the COSI management could work through this without the input from an outside mediator.

Wombat2 - Thanks for the reference to the Science Museum of Minnesota. Here's the link if anyone wants to check it out. This center is over 100 years old, located in St. Paul. They have 600 employees and over 1000 volunteers. Plus a huge reference of corporate partners such as 3M and others.

http://www.smm.org/about/history/

They do mention a K-6 magnet school which they partnered with St. Paul Public School system. The site also indicates what looks like a very good science resource center for teachers. This serves as professional development with specific programs but also a location and venue for teachers to share ideas. That very idea could be extremely helpful to our teaching base. One of the things I experienced while serving as a sub is that often the teacher is very isolated - spending your day with 25-30 students. So there ends up being very little time to talk or work with other teachers or take the assistance of alternative resources. From the looks of this site, if you're a science teacher or any teacher a center like this could be very valuable.

I also agree with the idea of making a subject come alive for students. All the success stories either from teachers or highly successful schools find a way to connect the subject matter to the student mainly through the use of hands on "real" situations.

The SMM also has an IMAX Threatre on site - another way to make money for the center especially if the Threatre is open beyond normal museum hours.

This sounds like a great place to visit. Thanks!

Ford will just go to the voter with the usual fear tactics for money. Doesn't it only take 4 of the 5 Board members to get a school levy on the ballot? Ford can meet with Mr Torres and after a little dealin', he get that majority.

Darlene, however, will just be "magged".

...has a vested interest in keeping something in there because they still own the building (value about $4.4 million and zoned downtown commercial).

Of course, with the push by the paper, our elected officials will jump all over themselves to try and do something.

And we've seen how well Toledo manages other retail-type facilities (Erie Street Market???)

I think the city should see what it would take to get out from under any requirement imposed as a result of the $11+ million the state dumped into the construction and then see if selling it would let the city, at least, break even.

Then, once in private hands, it will begin to pay property taxes (which it hasn't ever done)...

...that the idea of matching COSI to a charter schools should be explored. But not in the current building. The building costs are the major stumbling block for any venture there - it's designed to draw your attention outward, not inward, and it costs a fortune for HVAC.

If we're interested in such a combination as COSI+school, we should put it where it can be the most successful - and that isn't in the current building.

Which then leads me back to my original comment. This unique idea isn't about doing something that's good for kids - it's about finding other ways to use public monies to save COSI, in spite of what the voters have decided.

... of people who testify about how Southwyck became thuggish and they just stopped going. In one memorable case, the man had to watch some thug toss a beer bottle in his wife's direction in the parking lot, and they were both dressed to the nines. End Result: Thugs score 93287, Decent Folk score 0 ... and Levis Commons and Franklin Park are mobbed.

...all those logical and valuable questions will get you declared an "obstructionist"!!

LOL!!!

;)

"...they are very similar to what Toledo needs."

yes, but does Toledo understand that yet? methinks not...

... Waterville is still gaining folks who are spending major money on housing, which is creating a rising base for tax revenue. He can afford to be perky about government when the future is rosy.

In contrast, the "circle the wagons" folks in Toledo politics tend to know that Detroit is the map of our future. True, it doesn't have to be, yet it's a lot easier to just keep the public out ... just like it's a lot easier to put levies on the ballot instead of getting down to brass tacks with budget cuts. Personally, I find economizing fun and interesting, but I'm not the type to run for office.

Mags, the voters don't decide anything. They're only there to officiate or rubber-stamp what the party machine has already decided upon.

On top of that, the nearly 50/50 vote means that we're just going to see a COSI levy on the ballot AGAIN. There's a significant risk of an April vote, since I'm sure Ford and Sobecki will be charging "forward" 100% for a levy too. The turnout will be pathetic, which is what they count on for a Spring vote.

I'm getting that old sinking feeling about COSI. We financial conservatives are doomed in Toledo, since the populace is still voting on HOPE on the way down to economic DOOM. They are very weak, and those who are weak around here are taken advantage of. The more I look north to Detroit, the more I see Toledo's future.

I now work in Holland (Toledo employers never bothered to even respond to my applications). None of my co-workers live in Toledo, and my boss is trying to unload his 1st home on the East Side. The reasons are declining as to why I remain resident in Toledo. I stay where I am now since my landlord is a great person and is a friend of a friend (so I know where my money is going) ... but in a few more years, my own "decision" will probably be made. At my back, Toledoans will really start taxing and spending themselves to fiscal death.

Isn't it apparent that we are in decline in the city?

People are leaving and businesses are not moving in.

And when some entity closes up shop and leaves the ruckus starts about how to undo what is done, instead of looking forward...leadership?

http://toledoohioneighborhoodconcerns.com/blog

When you "look forward", you have to do so under the admission that you now have less of a tax base than before. That's not welcome information in Toledo. That's why pols in Toledo continue to disproportionately court the unions; the unions still represent a large wealth base in their constituents. That process is just relying on past glories and not current realities.

So, it's just not generally apparent that the city is in decline. People don't even want to discuss it -- willful ignorance, anyone? -- and when they do, they are dismissive since "things will get better". We even have a lot of people thinking that it's a "buyers' market" in housing, when home prices in Toledo still have quite a distance to fall. That's just the sad trend for Toledoans. I've never encountered before a people who deny reality so completely.